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UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund

State of World Population 2005

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CHAPTER 6

© David Alan Haviv/VII
Man proudly displays his baby boy to onlookers in a village on Chacahua Island, Mexico.

Partnering with Boys and Men

-Men's Roles in Achieving the Millennium
Development Goals


-The Impact of Gender Roles on Men

-Reaching Out to Boys and Men

-Reinterpreting Masculinity

-The Formative Years

-Accelerating Progress

Accelerating Progress


When it comes to poverty reduction, gender equality, reproductive health, halting the AIDS epidemic and eliminating violence against women (see Chapter 7), the benefits of involving men are clear. Recent initiatives, policies and laws are demonstrating success. However, budgetary constraints loom large and sociocultural resistance to greater equity persists. Though many innovative programmes have emerged over the past decade, they are generally small in scale.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals will require involving men more directly and on a larger scale. Reproductive health and gender programmes in the armed services and police provide a model. Countries in every region have worked with UNFPA to take advantage of established military health and educational infrastructures to reach large segments of the population, especially young men who represent the majority of army recruits, and who are a key audience for prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.(47) A project with the Botswana armed forces used the urgency of HIV prevention as an entry point for raising awareness about other aspects of reproductive health and rights. In northwest Namibia, military and police officers, as well as soccer coaches and managers, were trained on reproductive health issues. The project, which took advantage of local brew shops to disseminate its messages, is credited with reducing gender-based violence and increasing requests for voluntary testing and counselling, as well as for condoms.(48)

In Latin America, UNFPA has helped to institutionalize reproductive health, gender equality and HIV prevention programmes in the armed forces in nine countries over the last decade. In Ecuador, reproductive health education in military schools and services was expanded to include officers' families. Gender stereotypes have shown signs of changing, and fathers' relationships with their adolescent children have improved.

In Nicaragua, reproductive health programmes are now officially mandated at all levels of the military's health services and training courses. A thousand army conscripts have been trained to serve as Brigades on Sexual and Reproductive Health and educate their communities once they are released from duty. Female military employees report greater respect from colleagues and more support for and knowledge of women's reproductive rights. Demand for condoms has also risen.(49)


"I learned to talk more with my girlfriend. Now I worry more about her.it's important to know what the other person wants, listen to them. Before [the workshops], I just worried about myself."

- Young Brazilian participant in Programme H


Other ways to scale up men's involvement include reaching employees in the workplace and taking advantage of national health infrastructures. In Haiti, the NGO Group in Struggle Against AIDS has reached 20,000 men at utility companies and bottling plants.(50) Bangladesh has tested integrating services for men into rural Health and Female Welfare Centres. If an expansion of the pilot project results in significant improvements, the Ministry of Health plans to scale up coverage nationwide to 3,700 health centres.(51)

Both the 2005 UN Secretary-General's progress reports on the Beijing Conference and the UN Declaration on Commitment to HIV/AIDS reiterate the need to transform social norms affecting boys and men and to involve them as partners in promoting women's human rights, halting the epidemic and caring for HIVpositive family members.(52) A greater emphasis on men raises some important issues. Since women bear a disproportionate burden in reproductive health and childbearing, efforts directed at men should not come at the expense of women or deflect scarce resources from programmes that women desperately need. One solution is to involve men in ways that benefit both sexes and promote gender equality as an explicit aim. The results of various initiatives suggest that efforts to reach both men and women could further progress toward international development goals. This implies mobilizing sufficient resources and political will to accelerate momentum towards a more gender-equitable world, as called for by the UN Millennium Project.

7. Gender-Based Violence: A Price Too High >>
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